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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Nov 23, 2009 5:53 PM Flag

    and grocery store employees 2B paid a prevailing wage of about $11 an hour

    Developers say prevailing wage legislation could hurt Pittsburgh

    By Adam Brandolph
    Monday, November 23, 2009
    Last updated: 12:59 pm

    Legislation requiring developers who receive public subsidies to pay market-rate wages would stymie development projects and ultimately hurt the city, developers said today. "It would make it difficult to lure retailers into the city," said Lucas Piatt, executive vice president of Millcraft Industries, a Washington County development firm. "All of the good things that come with development, including more jobs and an increased tax base, would really not be able to happen."

    The legislation, introduced last week by City Council President Doug Shields, would require janitors, kitchen workers and grocery store employees to be paid a prevailing wage of about $11 an hour. The state and federal minimum wages are $7.25 an hour. The rules would affect projects that get $100,000 or more in city subsidies and are larger than 100,000 square feet, except for grocery stores, which would have a lower threshold of 30,000 square feet.

    "We're all for paying living wage in Downtown, but if it hamstrings development, it will do the opposite," Piatt said. "We're asking for time to give developers the opportunity to comment, address issues that could be long-lasting and potentitally damaging to the city of Pittsburgh."

    Proponents of the legislation say taxpayer money should be used to benefit the public and not just developers.

    "If they're going to use public money, the public should have good-paying jobs," said Kevin Kilroy, public affairs officer for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23.

    Bill Gatti, owner of Trek Development Group, a Downtown real estate development company whose firm most recently developed the Century Building, a twelve-story residential building on Seventh Street, said the margins are "so narrow" in urban development that the legislation would "push it over the edge."

    "It would kill everything we're working on in the city," Gatti said.

    Companion legislation from Councilman Bill Peduto would set standards for reducing diesel emissions and stormwater runoff, and create parks and open spaces on projects funded with public money.

    Rachel Filippini, director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution, said Peduto's bills would work toward supporting a healthy community.

    Kilroy agreed: "Clean air and clean water is important to everybody," he said.

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